Stop the abuse


(from left) Lee, Ong, Lim and Tam.. hoping to
change the attitudes of society with their video
shoots that use up to 1,000 cut-out figures.

THE ISSUE of violence against women has long been a hot-button topic in society, but sadly, despite efforts to create awareness on the topic or to prevent it, many women still suffer in silence.

Very often, cases are reported only after many years of abuse have passed.

Even in day-to-day life, many women suffer abuse and harassment, but the issue remains unchecked, mainly because no actual physical violence occurs.

However, a small band of women is taking a stand against deeply-rooted misogyny, and hoping to change the attitudes of society, one viral video at a time.

The online project, known as the Stop Motion Project, is the brainchild of Ong Jo-Lene, Temme Lee and Lim Kar Mern – three social activists who worked with funds from a small grant provided by the Association of Progressive Communications (APC) and supported by Empower (Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor).

With those funds, they created three videos with the aim of encouraging discussion and promoting awareness on violence against women through creative story-telling and the use of stop-motion animation.

Each video ends with the campaign tagline: When does the violence begin?

They hope that viewers who watch the videos will ask themselves the question and be able to identify instances of violence around them.

Beginning last October, Ong, Lee and Lim, who were later joined by Michelle Tam, embarked upon a gruelling two-month-long process involving conceptualising and producing the videos, including the laborous task of cutting out over 1,000 images that were later used in the video shoots.

Each video revolves around different themes. The first, entitled Physical Violence, illustrates the issue of domestic violence happening behind closed doors, asking viewers if all is well in their neighbourhoods and teaching them not to ignore the signs of someone being abused.

This video can already be viewed online, while the other two videos will be released over a period of six weeks.

At the launch in 67 Tempinis Gallery in Bangsar, members of the media were given a special preview of the other two videos produced by the team.

These two videos shift the focus from physical violence to discriminatory social attitudes against women.

The second video, Sexual Violence, is a humorous, but thought-provoking video taking aim at the ladies-only coach on KTM trains, asking if segregating women for their own safety truly protects them from harassment, or if it is ignoring the bigger problem.

The final video, Verbal Violence, focuses on the power of words, and how despite the saying: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me", words can actually hurt.

The video features several people sharing some of the sexist taunts they have heard aimed at women, ranging from the subtle, "But you’re a girl" to violent, explicit swear words.

The videos as well as details on the Stop Motion Project itself are available on www.stopmotionproject.org, as well as on the websites of its campaign partners, online video channel PopTeeVee and legal community blog LoyarBurok.

The videos will also be screened at selected institutes of higher learning in the Klang Valley, with the hope that they will go viral, helping to spread the message to as many people as possible.

The campaign will also get exposure from being featured at Women:100, a festival celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, which is organised by arts community portal Kakiseni.